Photo Credit: Leaders at G100-New York Meet & Greet at the Millenium Hilton One UN Plaza
Some months ago, I was invited by the amazing Rafaela Rica, G100 Global Chair for Digital Media & Ecommerce to speak at WEF Balkans on the "Power of Communication", unfortunately I couldn't participate due to a family emergency. However, the kind invitation had me thinking about the power of communication in bridging the gender divide.
All solutions start with a conversation.
One must first engage to have a better understanding of the problems, before they can even proffer solutions. Part of the role of communication is to tear down the invisible walls and barriers that may get in the way of connecting to the heart of a problem.
Communication helps to bring down our guards and to bridge the gap, so we can dig deep, dive in, inspire a clarity of purpose and foster better understanding and trust amongst groups of people. It helps to eliminate confusion, assumption and misinformation.
Effective communication is necessary to inspire communities, their stakeholders, leaders and tribe to engage one another in ways that foster solidarity and support across borders.
Without communication there is no relationship. Communication is integral to forming bonds and building concrete relatonships.
- We communicate to satisfy curiousity but also to set social structures that help us exercise our influence, motivate the people around us and learn from them.
- Communication provides information that is necessary to either evoke the right emotional response, amplify awareness or trigger transformation.
When we communicate, the information we receive is power that can positively serve to enlighten groups of people to 'Know Better, DO Better and BE Better.'
We have a lot of work to do in reframing the narratives on gender equality advocacy, but also better interpersonal and cross-cultural interactions across the genders and their representing champions.
Constantly comparing women to men only creates a distorted argument. The misconception that gender equality is somehow about competition between men and women needs to change.
- 'Women's Rights' do not benefit only women. It benefits all members of society - men, women and their children.
- Abolishing inequalities of all kinds, enables harmony and equal opportunities for all.
Imagine how disempowering it is for a man to be marginalised based on his ethnicity, race, religion or social status - that's exactly how it feels for a woman to be marginalised based on her gender.
Everywhere we look the conversation is about women empowerment. Wait! Does women empowerment suddenly mean that men will no longer have power?
That's not the goal. I believe it's more about 'power sharing' to create balance, foster harmony, eradicate marginalisation and provide a level playing field for everyone.
- The empowerment of women is NOT the disempowerment of men.
- Uplifting women is NOT downgrading men.
This is where we have work to do. Communicating this. Just because many of us - gender champions innately know this, doesn't mean everyone does.
It is clear that many people don't understand this truth, or maybe they do, but profit from the gender war, so they skew or project their understanding to create more division and do more damage.
Beyond the many obstacles women face, a lot of the problems we have in the gender equality discuss is rooted in bad communication.
The thing about communication is that it doesn't rely only on facts and data...or the intention behind what you are saying, but also "how" you are saying it.
This is where creative communication is needed. Why? It resolves the "how".
The premise of creativity is to provide innovative solutions to problems.
- Creative communication is sharing ideas in innovative ways, and having the possibility to transform thoughts into content or relatable art forms, through different mediums so that the core of a message is conveyed in a clear, human and actionable way.
- It is also active listening to what other people have to say and giving them the opportunity to react or respond with their points of views to improve better understanding of a mission.
Getting the Message Across
Lately, I have observed lots of conversations and interactions online that have left me completely concerned about how we engage one another on the issues that concern us as women, and how we are getting our message across. Being condescending or openly derogatory towards any group, gender, race, religion, culture or art form and institutions (whether or not you value them) is totally in misalignment with the goal and vibe of G100.
We believe it's okay to disagree... and have our different perspectives. But it's important to do so respectfully and consciously.
The best communicators know that trust can not be demanded nor requested. It is earned. Trust is earned through persistent, consistent and open communication.
Some months back, I had a conversation with a male friend who is vocally anti-feminist. At first we talked politics, inflation and the deplorable economic situation. Then we jumped into discussing my current projects. Of course, I mentioned G100 and explained the G100 vision, our G100-MAC goals and a business plan I had developed for a separate partnership project specifically targeted towards women...
- I broke down for him, the economic benefits of having more women empowered financially.
- I also mentioned how his wife should be a top level decision maker at her organisation.
- I further explained how having the opportunity to earn as much as her male counterparts, could easily support their home, her personal dreams or even reduce his overhead expenditures (which he never stops complaining about).
Clearly two heads are better than one. And for the first time he got it. He clearly saw how the advocacy towards gender equality isn't just about feminism, wokeism or degradation of cultural norms, anti-preservation of gender roles or disruption of traditional beliefs, but the devastating effect that disempowering women has on the economy, worldwide as well as, in other areas like education, health, legislation and even governance.
Observations and Intepretations
Observations are facts or occurences we recognize and can measure while intepretations are the conclusions we derive from the observations.
- Unfortunately, it is often the intepretations that get reported largely in media and in mass numbers, while the observations may only be reported to the primary source.
- Generally we jump into intepretations without checking or examining the primary sources (or data) to see if the observations support the intepretations, before determining which conclusions are justified.
- Understanding the difference between observations and intepretations is vital for better communication.
In a world of chaotic, violent and conflicting messages, creating and maintaining good quality and empathic communication is necessary - while taking the time to observe before concluding.
There is nothing more refreshing than coming across leaders who interact in a genuine and humane way.
Having the emotional intelligence, empathy, bravery and skills to express themselves in a unique way, increasing the chance that the person they are communicating to, will feel engaged and respond to the call-to-action.
The G100 Stance
In G100-MAC, our mandate is to use different creative mediums and platforms to enlighten, educate and inspire others - even as we are enabling more visibility for women and creating the thought leadership and solutions that will bring about change.
In G100 - We are unifiers. We unite. We build. We support. We applaud. We encourage. We empower. We celebrate. We contribute.
Instead of simply condemning everything you believe is negative, contribute something "positive" to the conversation to help influence and inspire change or create a solution-focused result.
Only light takes out darkness.
Instead of confrontation... We dialogue!!
We choose to engage meaningfully and respectfully to foster better understanding of our perspective. As leaders in G100-MAC, we know that communication is everything. This is our mandate.
While our G100 mission is to close the gender gaps, foster inclusive and social economic empowerment of women towards gender parity, equity and balance.
Gender Equality is NOT Sameness
We know that 'Gender Equality' is not Sameness. We are not advocating that women are the same as men or should replace men. Propagating these thoughts and bullying others online with media content that seeks to deflect or misrepresent our beliefs, only reflects a lack of understanding.
We are advocating that women should NOT be treated "less than" men - but with the same level of regard and respect given to men, because even though we are different - our dreams, desires, ambitions and vision to succeed and do great things in the world is 'equivalent' to the desires that men have for themselves.
Just as their desires and goals are valid (and we support men to thrive), so are our desires.
We do not subscribe to gender divisiveness or discrimination. We are not in battle. We are in co-creation and collaboration with men because we consider men to be our allies, our supporters, our anchors, our co-creators and our brothers.💕
We know that women do not live or work in silos, as we have men in our families, our homes, our organisations and institutions... so we engage our sons and brothers for their better understanding of the barriers that women face.
These barriers are real and not imagined... it may not be true for you in your environment, but it is for others. And as a global group we encourage others to be mindful and respectful of "the others" even if we are not them or do not share the same experience, culture, creed or beliefs.
A Mathematical Equation
In college, I got A+ in Maths and Further Maths...😆👇🏽
However, if you can not explain it to a 6-year old, then you do not understand it yourself. So here is my simple mathematical expression of equality...
And I can go on and on...
None of these mathematical values are the same... they are all individually different but their answers are equal. The equation is the same despite individual numeric value or solution.
These are my thoughts about Gender Equality.
Women and Men are NOT the same. We are different in many ways, our diversity is endless... but we can still have equal opportunities, economic and structural support, plus acknowledgement and celebration of our talents & contributions to the benefit of all.
Any content you create, curate or re-share that mocks, ridicules, belittles or misrespresents our views and values in the slightest, does a disservice to all of us who truly want the best for everyone.
Less Push and More Pull
We have important work to do, that will benefit of all of us-women, men and children, in the long run. It is an important responsibility. G100 is a great platform and opportunity to do that which we must. Hence the reason antagonism, division, anger, confrontations, bullying will not help foster an ecosystem of solidarity and have never helped in the past to change much. They are not sustainable energies for progress. They only divide us and separate us.
The PUSH! PUSH! PUSH! tactic of people attacking each other in a bid to get their points across will not help us to create the world we desire. Whether one is for women or for men. Antagonising only widens the gap and creates further misunderstandings.
We need to instead PULL others in lovingly to help them understand the dangers of women and men not working together in unity, and how it doesn't benefit anyone.💕
Standing for women doesn't mean one needs to stand against men, OR that supporting men one should be against women. These extreme polarisation is dangerous for all. Even worse, sharing or creating media content that pits men against women or women against men, escalates the problem.
Who does it benefit when we are at eachother's throat? Who does it benefit when we tear each other down or go to war over our differences?
A Resolution for the Revolution
As a woman leader, I'm in support of empowering women. I'm on a mission to help more women be seen and heard, and I'm creating tactical, substantial and practical opportunities for this commitment to be realised... but that doesn't mean that I'm against men.
- In fact, I believe that men will be equal beneficiaries of the positive impact women create.
- I believe most women like me, want the best for everyone and in our quest to achieve that, we understand that mindfullness is needed when we engage each other to discuss the barriers we face.
Women need to feel like they are part of bringing the change. Our feminine energy is necessary right now to foster harmony, peace and love in the interaction and discussions that will bring about the change we seek. Whether you are a traditional or modern women should not matter, Gen Z or a Baby Boomer - we need to create the space where all feel loved and understood. A place for everyone to express their truth, talent and greatness.
So whether you are advocating for gender equality, promoting your personal brand or organisation or simply forming personal or professional relationships. Ask yourself...
- What do I want to achieve from this interaction?
- How would my message, medium or style of communication help me achieve my goal?
- Am I creating barriers and building more walls between me and them... (or) am I clear, relatable, accessible and authentic?
This is where we have work to do - soul sisters and brothers. Fostering better communication, better presentation and representation of what it truly means to empower women and why it is beneficial to everyone in our homes, families, institutions, organisations and societies.
About The Author
Dr Alex Okoroji is a Nigerian Actress, Multiple Award-Winning Media Personality, Media Entrepreneur and Creative Leader - who has reinvented herself at every stage of her career as a Performing, Visual and Literary Artist - navigating the world of Art, Media and Entertainment for two decades. She has dedicated her career to multimedia content development across various applications, from film to television to radio, digital media, and print. She is one of the 100 Global Women Leaders in G100 and serves as G100 Global Chair for Media Arts & Communication.